Regional Green Building Case Study Project Failure
The need for tropical sustainable buildings in our city and region is stronger now than ever. These building types use resources more efficiently, are more climate-responsive and deliver new technology using world’s best practice. With the estimated three billion people living in tropical regions set to double by the end of the century, tropical Australia is uniquely placed to take full advantage of this niche opportunity and tropical sustainable design represents a significant emerging industry that can create opportunities for innovative solutions and the expansion of the tropical design and construction industries.
The Case Study Project is a joint initiative of the Tropical Green Building Network (TGBN) and James Cook University (JCU) and aims to capture and share the knowledge and best practice tropical expertise in our built environment. The Case Studies record key features of selected sustainable/green/tropically adapted building projects in the Cairns and Far North Queensland (FNQ) region. Many of the projects already have green star ratings from various sources. Other projects are well adapted to our tropical environment yet are difficult to rate using criteria typically based on temperate models. The Project aims to consolidate knowledge and augment our understanding of those features that are tailored to deliver success in our tropical environment.
Each case study carries technical information and has been compiled by members of the Cairns and region construction industry. There are case studies of large developments at Ports North and Skyrail, Smithfield Village, the Cairns Convention Centre, TNQIT TAFE, Botanical Gardens Visitors Centre, William McCormack Place Stage 2, Edge Hill State School and Redlynch Sports Stadium to name a few. There are also case studies featuring multi-units, tourist accommodation, work carried out in the Daintree, our national parks, Aboriginal and Thursday Island remote communities.
The project commenced in 2012 with $20K in funding from the JCU Sustainability Fund. The project team leaders established a Working Group of experts from allied disciplines, and an administration officer was also employed. Emma Thirkell identified over 70 projects and started gathering information. A Guiding Document and Data Collection Sheet were devised and widely distributed to those in the industry that might have suitable case studies to document. Throughout 2013 Data Collections Sheets were completed and photos and plans submitted to the administration officer. The working group peer reviewed data collection sheets and qualified the projects for inclusion. In 2014, the process of readying the case studies for publication was undertaken and the launch of the published case studies was a formal celebration of our collaboration at the Cairns Institute on the 14th July 2014.
Although the Case Studies Project has completed its initial goal, the process is established to support the ongoing compilation and publication as new projects as they emerge.
Emma Thirkell: Thirkell Consulting Engineers & facilitator of the Tropical Green Building Network powered by GreenBuild.com.au
Lisa Law: Centre for Tropical Urban and Regional Planning, James Cook University
Belinda Allwood: People Oriented Design, Architect and Green Building Council of Australia accredited professional
Gisela Jung: CA Architects, Architect and Green Building Council of Australia accredited professional
Andrew McFadden: Peddle Thorpe Architects, Architect and Green Building Council of Australia accredited professional
Victor Adamczyk: ARUP, Engineer, representing Engineers Australia
Liam Kenny: Flanagan’s Consulting Group, Engineer, representing Engineers Australia
Chris Di Marco: Di Marco Designs, Building Designer representing the Building Designers Association of Queensland
Jane Hall: Enaj Building Design, Building Design representing the Building Designers Association of Queensland
Very special thanks goes to over 100 people that have contributed their time to compiling the first round of case studies.
Cairns City View, Photograph by Matthew Kenwrick
Flawed energy efficiency modeling is the reason many green buildings fail to live up to expectations on energy efficiency, according to a U.K. researcher.
David Coley, a University of Bath specialist, led a team that surveyed 108 architects, engineers, and energy consultants who routinely use energy performance models. They asked participants to look at a typical British semi-detached home recently updated to meet current building codes. Then they asked test subjects to rank which improvements made the most difference to energy performance.
Their answers didn’t match up with reality, suggesting a performance gap between modeling and the real world. There were cases where the modelers produced a savings measure that was more than the energy use of the house.
Energy models showing unreasonable results are evident at the preliminary stage on half of projects going through the LEED certification process, according to a U.S. Green Building Council official. Designers have a tendency to accept outputs without evaluating the reasonability of the results, she said.
Part of the reason for the performance gap is that modelers do not usually go onsite to see how the building operates and compare that to the design. Typically there is no expectation that they’ll even talk to the building manager at year one and ask how energy usage compares with the original model.